There has been a significant increase in the Down syndrome life expectancy over the years. Read this HealthHearty article to know more about the syndrome, which usually leads to several health problems.
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic birth defect. Normal human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. This genetic disorder is the result of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in all or some of the body cells. Abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. About 1 in 800 babies fall prey to Down syndrome. The risk of having a baby born with this disorder is higher in case of women who are more than 35 years of age.
Down syndrome is named after a British doctor, John Langdon Down, who first explained the condition. But it was in 1959, a French doctor, Jerome Lejeune identified it as a chromosome 21 trisomy. Down syndrome does not spread through contact or any other medium, that is, it is not contagious. It is purely a birth defect associated with the genes. Even though older women are more prone to having babies with this syndrome, 80% babies with this disorder are born to mothers under 35 years, as the pregnancy rate is higher in that age group.
One can identify children with Down syndrome by observing their facial profile. They have slanting eyes and a flattened face. They are not mentally retarded, even if they may appear to be so, by their facial features. Many children with this defect are known to have great academic records. Most children with Down syndrome find it difficult to focus their eyes, and they have to live with poor vision forever. They may also have hearing problem. There is an increased risk of heart defects, leukemia, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and other health problems in these kids. Because of abnormalities in their immune systems, they are more prone to infections, such as pneumonia and ear/skin infections. Individuals with down syndrome may suffer from intestinal blockage, hormone imbalance, obesity, early menopause, seizures, psoriasis, skeletal problems, etc.
Life Expectancy of Down Syndrome
The life expectancy of those with Down syndrome has increased considerably over a period of years. Earlier the Down syndrome life span was barely 9 years. But now people with this defect live for 50 to 60 years. Thanks to the development of medical sciences. However, Down syndrome life expectancy mainly depends upon the severity of health problems that the person has.
A large number of deaths caused by Down syndrome occur in the uterus, even before the child is born. Down syndrome can be detected a few weeks or months after conception. Down syndrome death rate is high in the first year of life, the main reason being heart defects. A number of other health problems may also lead to increased mortality in the first year of life. But if children with down syndrome pass through this crucial first year, the life span increases by 10 or more years. So it becomes very important for the parents with Down syndrome kids, to take proper care of their children in the early days. A positive attitude plays an important role in the development of such kids.
As Down syndrome is related to chromosomes, it cannot be cured by medications. Life expectancy depends mainly on the medical problems that are associated with this disorder, the most common being congenital heart diseases and leukemia. Recent inventions and development in the medical field have found ways to treat leukemia and heart disorders, thus reducing the deaths, and increasing the lifespan of people with Down syndrome. Hence it is advisable for parents with Down syndrome kids to identify their kid’s medical problems, and get the necessary treatment as early as possible. Early intervention of the medical conditions can help increase the life span of these children.
Parents should support and understand their child in the early stages of Down syndrome. This can help a child overcome his disabilities and look at the world with an increased self-confidence. With increasing research, we can hope to see higher Down syndrome life expectancy in the future.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.